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stop-frackingOPTOn Friday, the Assembly adopted dangerous new amendments to Senator Pavley’s fracking bill, SB 4. Even if you previously supported SB 4, these amendments should change your mind because they roll back critical protections that already exist in California law.

New amendments to SB 4—especially the newly added PRC § 3161 (p. 21) and changes to PRC § 3160(d)(2)(B)(p.13)—have made an inadequate bill far, far worse. SB 4 in its current form would pave the way for fracking to continue in the short term with even fewer protections than Californians currently have. We would truly be better off passing no fracking legislation this year than we would be if SB 4 passes in its current form.

·        SB 4 now creates a loophole to California’s cornerstone environmental law—the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). New language in the bill gives the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) and the oil industry legal ammunition in their bid to exempt fracking permits from review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), California’s cornerstone environmental law. Further, the amendment could be used by DOGGR and industry to prevent air and water boards, local land use jurisdictions and other agencies from carrying out their own CEQA reviews of fracking.

 ·        SB 4 could eliminate Governor Brown and DOGGR’s authority to deny approval to frack wells or to place a full or partial moratorium on fracking before regulations are finalized if they determine that it cannot be done safely. Under existing law, the Governor and DOGGR can deny individual approvals that involve fracking or place a partial or complete moratorium on fracking. The new language states that DOGGR “shall allow” fracking to take place until regulations are finalized in 2015 provided that certain conditions are met.  This could be interpreted to require every fracked well to be approved between now and 2015, with environmental review conducted only after the fact, and could be used to block the Governor or DOGGR from issuing a moratorium on fracking prior to 2015.

 ·        We don’t and can’t know how SB 4 might be amended in the final days of the legislative session. The shenanigans that take place in the California Legislature in the final days of the session are legendary, and provide powerful players like the oil industry dangerous opportunities to ram through legislation without public scrutiny.

Many environmental groups have opposed SB 4 because the only safe way forward for California is to ban fracking, acidization and all other dangerous methods of unconventional oil extraction.  Because SB 4 in its current form would actually make a bad situation significantly worse in some regards, we urge you to join us in calling on Senator Pavley to pull SB 4 and instead work to halt fracking in California. http://sd27.senate.ca.gov/contact

Find your Representative by address: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

—Thanks to Jan D. for forwarding this information.